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Student safety ideas could become reality

Published: 25 March 2022 at 16:01

View along to Tindal Building on Anglia Ruskin University's Chelmsford campus

Partners work with ARU students to make Essex safer for women

A group of partners in Essex have come together to listen to ideas on how women’s safety might be improved, from inspiring students at Anglia Ruskin University (ARU).

Essex County Council, Essex Police, The Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner for Essex and Chelmsford City Council have been hearing presentations from groups of students from the ‘Students at the Heart of Knowledge Exchange’ (SHoKE) programme. The SHoKE initiative enables students at ARU to apply problem-solving techniques and make a personal social impact by collaborating with partner organisations.

At the Heart of the SHoKE project is a diverse, rapidly growing community of several hundred volunteer students who are personally motivated to make a positive difference in the world, through Knowledge exchange activities with key partners.

Five groups, made up of students from the SHoKE programme, have now presented to representatives from the partner organisations.

The aim of the presentations has been to provide organisations with key insights and innovative ideas to take forward, develop and implement as part of women’s safety work streams.

The presentations covered a range of themes impacting on women’s safety
Tackling drink spiking. 
Developing ‘In Her Shoes’ educational sessions.
A review of safety apps.
Creating an information hub for victims. 
Looking at ways to address cultural differences in relation to women amongst students

Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Communities at Essex County Council, Cllr Louise McKinlay said:

“I would like to thank all of the students from the SHoKE project who have given us some really interesting and exciting ideas to think over. We will now be looking at how we may use and develop these as part of our work going forward.

“Engaging residents and communities on the issue of women’s safety has been a hugely important piece of work that our Safety Advisory Group has been responsible for and this project is a perfect example of how reaching out to groups and individuals can result in finding solutions that we may have not thought of before.

“We know that the issues many women experience will not be solved overnight, but we, along with our partners, are committed to addressing these issues so that women in our county are not only safe but feel safe too.”



Assistant Chief Constable Rachel Nolan, who is leading Essex Police’s response to tackling violence against women and girls, said:

“The dedicated students who took part in the SHoKE project have given us interesting ideas to build on. Their hard work also means we have an all-important student perspective on matters which directly impact them.

“We’re here to listen and to support women and girls who live, work in or visit our county. Our job is to protect and serve them and we must make sure that they feel, and are, safe. 

“We will keep listening to our communities and will continue to work hard to address these issues – whether that’s through bringing offenders to justice, through educating the public, or working with our partners and community groups.”


Roger Hirst, Police Fire and Crime Commissioner for Essex said:

“We can make a huge difference in our communities by working together to prevent crime and challenge damaging or harmful behaviour. The SHoKE project is a great example of how communities can get together and make a positive difference. The levels of engagement from students has been great to see and the conversations, challenges and work done together has shown the passion and commitment of all of those involved.


Councillor Rose Moore, Cabinet Member for Greener & Safer Chelmsford at Chelmsford City Council, said:

“I would like to thank the students who have put so much work and thought into the ideas coming out of SHoKE. Tackling harmful attitudes is vital to dealing with the root causes of harassment and violence against women, and in combination with support for victims can strike at the heart of the problems many women and girls face every day. I look forward to working with our partner agencies to integrate the proposals into our day-to-day work in the community.”


Neale Daniel, project lead for SHoKE at ARU, said: 

“Students at the Heart of Knowledge Exchange (SHoKE) supports a growing community of almost 400 volunteer students who want to make a positive impact upon our society. The SHoKE team train and empower students to deliver consultancy projects in partnership with regional Councils, who have benefited from the diverse perspectives offered by ARU students around social issues.”


Stephen Sarfo, who is studying Town Planning at ARU and is part of SHoKE said:

“Experience from SHoKE is worth its weight in gold. My experience has strengthened my ability to work collaboratively in a multidisciplinary team, built on my leadership, consulting skills, self-confidence, and stakeholder management skills.”


The partners will now decide which ideas to develop and will announce this in due course. More details on the SHoKE programme can be found at: https://aru.ac.uk/business-employers/access-student-and-graduate-talent/students-at-the-heart-of-knowledge-exchange-shoke